| 17 Jun 2024
No label is too small and we will support good songs: Baljinder Mahant

MUMBAI:  9X Tashan, the first regional music channel floated by 9X Media, has just completed five years. These years have been an amalgamation of experimentation and innovation that runs in 9X Media’s veins.

9XM and 9X Tashan cluster head programming Baljinder Mahant takes through Tashan's journey over the years. Excerpts. 

What has changed in these five years of innovation and experimentation?

The 9X Tashan experience started with 9X Media exploring the regional market. 9X Tashan was the second 9X Media channel. Over the years we have created singers like Honey Singh, Badshah, Diljit Dosanjh and Gippy Grewal. We have supported the independent artistes’ growth by launching their singles and also created singles for them.

Five years ago, when 9X Tashan launched there was no competition, but today there is tough competition from other players in the market. How do you handle the competitive environment?

I do not consider anyone competition and I do not say this out of arrogance. We work in a field where we all follow the same strategy of playing hit songs, be it a music channel or a radio station. At 9X Tashan, we make songs a hit. We change trends every fortnight. So I believe that till we have our content and music selection in place we will grow.

I used to be a software engineer, I worked for a regional music channel next and then I managed to get Tashan to a national level. Must have done something right.

If you had to put 9X Tashan’s growth in numbers, how do you think it has grown over the years?

Tashan managed to get three times of its six months' GRPs in a week from its launch. It also managed to get five years of profitability in two years. Moreover, in a month from its launch, the group was motivated to launch more regional channels. 

Has demonetisation affected the ad revenue in the last one month?

It’s a temporary phase that has not affected a strong group as ours. We have a bouquet of channels. 

9X as a brand has been advertisers' ‘best friend’. But does that hamper original programming?

Even as a programming head, I need to keep in mind that we are looking after a business that runs on revenue. So, for us both viewers and clients are important. We try merging the two with the help of our animated characters. These characters have a defined characteristic and the brands that fall in that category are advertised accordingly. Our sales team knows the zone of these characters and they pitch accordingly. The best part about 9X Media is that unlike others, our programming team and sales team work hand-in-hand. We respect both.

Has the channel had to face any legal battles over the years?

Legal issues crop up with big stars in the picture, especially when you fail to meet their expectations. At Tashan, we don’t  just  fulfill their expectations, but we also give them add ons. There is no compromise and we do not ask any favours. The new artists do not have expectations, but we create one for them and fulfill them. So there have been no issues.

How has 9 X Tashaan’s association with the film fraternity and labels been over these years?

In the last few years, the numbers of labels have increased. When we launched, the CDs were shutting down, three-four music labels survived the phase. It was a tough time for many with the expenditures rising. This is when we stepped in to promote their videos.

Was every song being promoted?

Only good songs were played as we maintained quality. We rejected a lot of songs during this time. Now things have changed with digitalisation. So many more labels have come into play and we continue to support good music. There are times when a new artiste call us up and ask if they can start a new label. The next question is if we will support their song. Our answer still remains the same, ‘No label is too small and we will support good songs’. The reply gives a sense of security to the new players.

What’s next?

There is a lot, but it’s too early to talk.